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When do I step in and help supplement feed a puppy or kitten? (The Nursing Ladder)

By Jake Garber December 15, 2020

First off, simply put mom is best and nature intended it that way. However, there are times where we need to step in and help.
Below you will find the procedural rungs of what we like to call the "Nursing Ladder" this a series of rungs that you want to make sure you pay close attention to.
Steps are often sometimes overlooked and suckling and nursing is a very important part of the animals' development.
1. If a puppy/kitten is unable to latch onto mom try using Karo syrup and propping the puppy/kitten up with towels or rags into a relaxed nursing position (head up, paws up, with back arched at a slight incline)
2. You may also move the puppy/kitten to a back teat on mom which often flow easier and are often smaller in diameter
3. If the puppy/kitten is still unable to latch you should try a non-invasive supplement feeding method such as a syringe nurser or syringe with a feeding nipple attached
4. If that is still not working we recommend trying the sponge feeding method
5. Finally, the last resort to get nutrition into the animal is to tube feed until the puppy/kitten gains the strength to work their way back up the "Nursing Ladder" to mom again on their own
Please note, it is very important to relieve the animal by stimulating the genital area of the puppy or kitten prior to weighing/feeding. The reason behind this is that it gives a "true weight" of the animal and allows the animal to take in more fluids when the bladder is not full and pushing against the stomach.
Our recommendation is to weigh the animal every 12 hours after the bladder has been emptied and before feeding when dealing with newborns. It is often best to weigh the puppy in grams as it is easier than ounces to see changes in weight.

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